Location : Bengoh Dam Resettlement Scheme, Padawan, Kuching Division, Sarawak, Malaysia.
This very first ever ‘nyarok’ event was held at the Bengoh Dam Resettlement Scheme brand new skull house or ‘panggah’ as it is called here but more popularly called ‘baruk’ among the Bau Bidayuhs. This inaugural event was perhaps the biggest Gawai event ever held here since relocating from their ancestral land up in the mountains in the Bungo range.
In a nyarok event there has to be a host village and a guest village and in this case the guest is none other than Kampung Gumbang of Bau with all the familiar faces. Led by the visitors’ headman Mr Atok and Ketua Adat Mr Anyan they had been there since the night before to prepare for the ‘nyobeng’ ritual where the bathing and feeding of the skulls would be performed.
Nyobeng or Gawai Mukah events have long been lost and forgotten by Bidayuhs of Sarawak except Gumbang and Padang Pan which was why the expertise of these 2 villages was needed. It was good to see Kampung Gumbang and BRS reestablishing old ties and working towards bringing back the old culture of nyobeng.
It will be challenging for the elders of BRS as most of their folks have now adopted the Christian faith and it may not be to the liking of their church leaders but it will be good for tourism. Judging by the turnout of their villagers that day, it will take some time before they can reaccept back this traditional practice. Perhaps, an unanticipated tough life in BRS has driven them to this crossroads.
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